Thursday , November 23 2017
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Mike Kimel

Mike Kimel

An economist for a large corporation and author of Presimetrics blog and the book Presimetrics: How Democratic and Republican Administrations Measure Up on the Issues We Care About published August, 2010.



Articles by Mike Kimel

The Future of Colleges & Universities… And the Present

2 days ago

This article looks at the future of colleges and universities:
There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, but Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen says that half are bound for bankruptcy in the next few decades.
Christensen is known for coining the theory of disruptive innovation in his 1997 book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Since then, he has applied his theory of disruption to a wide range of industries, including education.
In his recent book, “The Innovative University,” Christensen and co-author Henry Eyring analyze the future of traditional universities, and conclude that online education will become a more cost-effective way for students to receive an education, effectively undermining the business models of

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Crack v. Opioids and Violence v. Racism

4 days ago

Here’s is a PBS commentary by law professor Ekow Yankah:
That Kroger, the Midwestern grocery chain, has decided to make the heroin overdose drug naloxone available without a prescription is a sign of how ominous the current epidemic has grown.
Faced with a rising wave of addiction, misery, crime and death, our nation has linked arms to save souls. Senators and CEOs, Midwestern pharmacies and even tough-on-crime Republican presidential candidates now speak with moving compassion about the real people crippled by addiction.
It wasn’t always this way. Thirty years ago, America was facing a similar wave of addiction, death and crime, and the response could not have been more different. Television brought us endless images of thin, black, ravaged bodies, always

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An Op Ed on Race Relations in the NY Times

6 days ago

The NY Times has an op ed entitled Can My Children Be Friends with White People?. (Dan here …Link corrected) I think this is the most interesting excerpt:
…I will teach my boys to have profound doubts that friendship with white people is possible. When they ask, I will teach my sons that their beautiful hue is a fault line. Spare me the platitudes of how we are all the same on the inside. I first have to keep my boys safe, and so I will teach them before the world shows them this particular brand of rending, violent, often fatal betrayal.
The author, Ekow N. Yankah, according to the Times is a professor at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. For an expert on criminal law, and one who cares about his sons’ safety, he seems surprisingly

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Baltimore School Test Scores and Baltimore School Spending

7 days ago

I’ve noted before I have a bit of an interest in Baltimore because my wife originates from there (despite having convinced herself that she’s from the Los Angeles area). So I noticed this story:
An alarming discovery coming out of City Schools. Project Baltimore analyzed 2017 state testing data and found one-third of High Schools in Baltimore, last year, had zero students proficient in math.
Contrast that with this:
The Baltimore City Public School System spent the fourth most per student during the 2014 fiscal year out of the 100 largest public school districts in the country, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The city’s school district, which is the 38th largest elementary and secondary public school district in the country, spent

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England, Employment, Wages and Brexit

12 days ago

The Guardian newspaper has a story about wages in England:
A shortage of factory workers is starting to push up pay rates but wage rises in the services sector remain rooted at around 2%, according to the latest feedback from the Bank of England’s regional agents.
The central bank said its agents, which are based in offices across the country, found that shortages this month across the manufacturing sector were leading to a “slight increase in pay growth” that would take average rate of pay rises up by half a percent, from 2-3% this year to 2.5%-3.5% in 2018.
The report appeared to justify Threadneedle Street’s move last week to increase interest rates, which officials at the bank said was needed to dampen the inflationary effects of wage rises.
A survey

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Different but Equal?

19 days ago

Here’s a fascinating recent article with the forbidding title of The landscape of sex-differential transcriptome and its consequent selection in human adults.  I’ll provide the abstract, and then a translation into English.  Here’s the abstract:
Background
The prevalence of several human morbid phenotypes is sometimes much higher than intuitively expected. This can directly arise from the presence of two sexes, male and female, in one species. Men and women have almost identical genomes but are distinctly dimorphic, with dissimilar disease susceptibilities. Sexually dimorphic traits mainly result from differential expression of genes present in both sexes. Such genes can be subject to different, and even opposing, selection constraints in the two sexes.

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Not With a Bang, but a Whimper… Democratic Party Edition. An Op Ed.

20 days ago

A presidential candidate like Donald Trump should not be viable. Candidates he supports should not be viable. The existence of Donald Trump should be a boon for the Democrats. And, in fact, it has been.
But it hasn’t been enough. Perhaps four (or eight?) years worth of results will tip the balance for Democrats, but it is reasonable to ask: why have Democrats been coming up short against Trump, both in the Presidential election and in special elections since?
The reason is that the Democrats have abandoned their traditional base (i.e., the working class). So why the change?
I would suggest it is because the middle class intelligentsia from which most leaders and volunteers of the Party spring is increasingly reliant on people who have believe in nonsense.

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Terrorism, UK Today, France Yesterday

23 days ago

From a story in Daily Mail:
Terror suspects including jihadis returning from fighting in Syria are to be offered taxpayer-funded homes, counselling and help finding jobs to stop them carrying out attacks in Britain.
The top-secret Government strategy, codenamed Operation Constrain, could even allow fanatics to jump to the top of council house waiting lists.
Official documents seen by The Mail on Sunday reveal that up to 20,000 extremists previously investigated by MI5 will be targeted with what critics last night described as ‘bribes’ aimed at turning them away from extremism.
The highly contentious nationwide programme is due to start next year, with police and cash-strapped councils hoping the Home Office will pay for it out of its £900 million

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Genetics as an Omitted Variable in Psychology and Social Science

29 days ago

Here’s the abstract of an article by Frank Schmidt in the Archives of Scientific Psychology:
Governments often base social intervention programs on studies done by psychologists and other social scientists.Often these studies fail to mention other research suggesting that such interventions may have a limited chance of actually working. The omitted research that is not mentioned often shows that the behaviors and performances targeted for improvement by the environmental intervention programs are mostly caused by genetic differences between people and for that reason may be more difficult to change than implied in these studies. This is particularly true when the goal is to greatly reduce or eliminate differences between people in such domains as school

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When People will not be Judged by the Color of their Skin, But On Where Their Ancestors Were Judged by the Color of their Skin

October 24, 2017

The Wall Street Journal had a piece that made reference to this story in the Cornell Daily Sun:
Martha E. Pollack, nearing the six-month mark of her presidency, is facing her first major test at Cornell after hundreds of black students, responding to the arrest of a student who may be charged with a hate crime, marched into her office last week and hand-delivered a series of demands.
The most interesting of the demand is:
We demand that Cornell Admissions to come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students on this campus. We define underrepresented Black students as Black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country.  The Black student population at Cornell disproportionately represents

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The Sharing Economy – Including the @$$holes

October 22, 2017

A friend of mine who has made it into his sixth decade without ever sullying himself with gainful employment is now doing deliveries, shared-economy style. (Packages, not people via Uber or Lyft.) I thought he was going to rail against the system when he described what is new in his life, but his attitude surprised me. Transcribed, to the best my of my recollection, his comments were:
So I went down for orientation. There were a bunch of people just like me. Basically, @$$holes who don’t deal well with people. @$$holes who don’t want a job, and couldn’t keep a job if they could get one. What I love about the shared economy is that it allows @$$holes like me to participate. I work when I want, and I’m getting somewhat regular income for the first

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On the Effect of the Gender Composition of the Editorial Boards for Top Economics Journals

October 20, 2017

Here’s the abstract of a discussion paper from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics by Felix Bransch and Michael Kvasnicka:
Using data on articles published in the top-five economic journals in the period 1991 to 2010, we explore whether the gender composition of editorial boards is related to the publishing success of female authors and to the quality of articles that get published. Our results show that female editors reduce, rather than increase, the share of articles that are (co-)authored by females. We also find evidence that female editors benefit article quality at low levels of representation on editorial boards, but harm article quality at higher levels. Several robustness checks corroborate these findings. Our results are broadly consistent with

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Race is a Social Construct

October 18, 2017

Back to back on my to read list were two articles that made an odd juxtaposition. First up was Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue in the once great Scientific American. Here’s a representative blurb:
More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of “white” and “black” as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.
Science would favor Du Bois. Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning. And yet, you might still open a study on

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CRISPR Critters

October 11, 2017

The first applications of gene editing are (will be?) to fix deleterious mutations. Nobody, or almost nobody, will complain when previously horrible diseases get fixed before a child is born. But the practice won’t stop there. There will be a progression of editing services from muscular dystrophy to hairlip to more ahtleticism, and eventually, more hair or a more attractive nose. The last two may take a while.
But what will be really interesting will be the tweaking of genes that fix cognitive issues. Again, its a matter of progression. Nobody – OK, almost nobody – will complain in a decade or three when Downs’ Syndrome is edited out of a fetus. From there, bringing a mildly retarded child to normal is a barely an ethical step at all. After that, well,

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California’s New HIV Law

October 9, 2017

I’ve stated a number of times that in my opinion, the one positive thing you can say about Democrats is that they usually are marginally less offensive than Republicans. But this is is really, really bad:
Starting January 1, 2018, it will no longer be a major crime in California to knowingly expose a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection. Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Friday that lowers the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor.
So… human nature being what it is… what do you think will be the result of reducing the disincentives to knowingly emposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection?
More:
The California legislature passed SB 239 on September 11.
The law previously punished people who knowingly exposed or

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Freedom of Speech

October 5, 2017

I am not a libertarian nor am I a member of the ACLU, but I generally agree with them on the importance of free speech. This, I believe, is a real and growing problem on college campuses:
Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union’s Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.
Ironically, Gastañaga had intended to speak on the subject, “Students and the First Amendment.”
The disruption was livestreamed on BLM at W&M’s Facebook page. Students took to the stage just a few moments after Gastañaga began her remarks. At first, she attempted to spin the demonstration as a welcome example of the kind of thing she

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Genes, Violence, and Testing

October 2, 2017

The abstract of an article in Molecular Psychiatry entitled Genetic background of extreme violent behavior reads as follows:
In developed countries, the majority of all violent crime is committed by a small group of antisocial recidivistic offenders, but no genes have been shown to contribute to recidivistic violent offending or severe violent behavior, such as homicide. Our results, from two independent cohorts of Finnish prisoners, revealed that a monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) low-activity genotype (contributing to low dopamine turnover rate) as well as the CDH13 gene (coding for neuronal membrane adhesion protein) are associated with extremely violent behavior (at least 10 committed homicides, attempted homicides or batteries). No substantial signal was

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People Killed by Police, 2016

September 29, 2017

As a follow up to my post on homicides in 2016, I decided to combine homicide data from the FBI with figures from the police shooting database from the Washington Post. The only difficulty is that the FBI classifies people as being from Black, White, Other, or Unknown races, whereas the Washington Post breaks out other groups, such as Hispanic. Because Hispanic people can be Black, White, or Other (as per FBI classfication), it is necessary to assign Hispanic deaths at the hand of the police to Black, White, or Other to match the FBI figures.
One approach would be based on the percentage of Hispanic people who are Black, White, etc. According to the Census, 2.5% of Hispanics are Black. On the other hand, it has been noted that Black people are

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2016 Homicides

September 28, 2017

The FBI just released data on homicides for 2016. In light of the various protests by the BLM and now football players, I thought I’d provide a a graph.  It breaks out population, homicide perpetrators and homicide victims by race.

(click to embiggen)
Note… the number of offenders exceeds the number of victims. This is a result of some homicides involving multiple perpetrators. This can happen, for example, if both the shooter and the getaway driver in a drive-by shooting are charged with the crime. The race breakdown comes from the FBI, and the population comes from the Census. Data sources are shown in the graph itself.
The key driver of the graph is the large percentage of perpetrators of unknown race. This happens because not all jurisdictions report

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Self-Driving Cars

September 27, 2017

Being a parent of a child under 16 means trying to figure out ways to get said child from here to there, say from school to home, and from home to after school activities, and then back. There is often a fair amount of juggling involved – one or more, er, “caregivers” are typically involved in the process To an economist, therefore, being able to put a child in a self-driving car means, potentially, more output in the economy. That’s a parent or grandparent that doesn’t have to take time away from something else (work?) to traipse across town, pick up the kid, drop him/her off, etc.
And of course, its not just kids. Other people or things that sometimes can’t drive themselves include some of the elderly, women in Saudi Arabia, and packages. And for those

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Worldwide Deaths, by Cause & Age, 1990 v. 2016

September 24, 2017

Here’s a fascinating graph from an article in the Lancet:

Click to embiggen. (The figure should show deaths all the way to >95 years)
The graph is a bit complicated at first, but it will convey some interesting information if you stare at it. What jumps out at me is how many more people were dying under age 25 in 1990 than in 2016. The number of deaths in 2016 v. 1990 increased dramatically for those above 25, particularly among the older cohorts. Simply put, a lot of people are living a lot longer.

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Habit Formation

September 22, 2017

There’s a fascinating but barely-accessible-to-a-non-neurologist article about habit formation. Here is a pretty good summary, albeit with an un-helpful title:
A single kind of neuron deep within the brain serves as a “master controller” of habits, new research in mice indicates.
Some habits are helpful, such as automatically washing your hands before a meal or driving the same route to work every day. They accomplish an important task while freeing up valuable brain space. But other habits—like eating a cookie every day after work—seem to stick around even when the outcomes aren’t so good.
Researchers found that habit formation boosts the activity of the influential nerve cell, and that shutting it down with a drug is enough to break habits in

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Justice Denied

September 21, 2017

From the Daily Mirror:
None of the 400 citizens returning here after fighting for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq have been charged with war crimes.
Yet the Council of Europe’s legal affairs committee recently ruled membership of the terror group, also known as Daesh, is enough for prosecution at the Hague’s International Criminal Court.
Labour Shadow Minister Liam Byrne, representing Britain, backed the decision.
He said: “We know British citizens were soldiers and commanders in Daesh’s army of evil. Yet not a single soldier captured on their return has been charged with war crimes or genocide.”
MI5 estimates that 850 Brits have slipped into Iraq and Syria to fight for IS – half of whom have returned.
They were outside the jurisdiction of the ICC while

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Supply and Demand in California

September 19, 2017

I came across the following graph:

(Click to embiggen)
Both the supply curve for labor in the state of California and the demand curve for housing in California are made up of the states residents.
In general, if you increase the supply of something, all else being equal you bring down its price. On the other hand, if you increase the demand for something, all else being equal you increase its price. The graph above suggests that in California, two things have happened. One is that the supply of labor has increased more rapidly than its demand. Conversely, the demand for housing has increased more rapidly than its supply.

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Homicides: Victimizers and Victims

September 16, 2017

Last year in Chicago:
Among the Sun-Times’ findings, based on a review of police and Cook County medical examiner’s reports, court files and interviews:
• The vast majority of those killed in Chicago in the first half of this year — 90 percent —died from a gunshot wound.
• Seventy-two percent were African-American men, their average age 29.
• Four out of five had faced criminal charges in Cook County at some point, mostly for drug offenses — the leading cause of arrest in Chicago.
• Two out of five had drug convictions.
• More than a quarter had been convicted of a violent offense or illegal gun possession.
• Domestic conflicts, many involving mental illness, were involved in at least 24 of the deaths.
• At least four were killed by stray bullets. Others

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Let the Punishment Fit the Crime, Identity Theft Edition

September 13, 2017

With the the recent Equifax data theft fiasco, I thought of a post I wrote 10 years ago:
Based on a conversation I had with reader Debbie, I was thinking about identity theft for the last day or so. I also had a discussion with the Ex-GF (for new readers, that’s my wife) about this; she was the victim of identity theft at one point. Its a big deal in this society, and I think I have a potential solution…
If someone steals someone else’s identity, their intention is to benefit from the reputation and credit rating and so forth that derive from the way their victim has conducted him/herself. Perhaps then they should also be required to, well, suffer the consequences for the way their victim conducted him/herself.
For example… the Ex-GF had a big pile of

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Let the Punishment Fit the Crime, Even if the Crime is Imaginary

September 12, 2017

This can’t be healthy:
Matthew Halls was removed as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival following an incident in which he imitated a southern American accent while talking to his longstanding friend, the African-American classical singer Reginald Mobley.
It is understood a white woman who overheard the joke reported it to officials at the University of Oregon, which runs the festival, claiming it amounted to a racial slur.
Here are the mechanics of the process:
But Mobley maintains that while racism should be challenged and ethnic groups made aware of each other’s sensitivities, his friend has been the victim of misunderstanding and overreaction.
Halls and Mobley had been chatting at a reception held last month during this year’s Oregon Bach

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ACT Scores and Achievement Gaps

September 8, 2017

The Washington Post has a story on ACT scores:
New results from the nation’s most widely used college admission test highlight in detailed fashion the persistent achievement gaps between students who face disadvantages and those who don’t.
Scores from the ACT show that just 9 percent of students in the class of 2017 who came from low-income families, whose parents did not go to college, and who identify as black, Hispanic, American Indian or Pacific Islander are strongly ready for college.
But the readiness rate for students with none of those demographic characteristics was six times as high, 54 percent, according to data released Thursday.
“That kind of shocked us,” ACT chief executive Marten Roorda said. “We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know it was

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From the Onion to the Times of London… And Back Again to be added soon

September 6, 2017

Jô Soares, a well known Comedian turned political commentator (think Al Franken but not in the Senate) in Brazil, used to do a recurring skit about a former general who woke up from a coma. The rib was, the general had gone into the coma while the country was still ruled by a military junta. Anyway, the general would see stories in the news about former political prisoners turned into leading politicians, or former military personnel on trial, etc., and he’d demand to have his feeding tubes removed. To get the jokes, of course, you not only have to understand Portuguese but also have some understanding of Brazilian politics from about 1970 to the mid-1980s.
I believe this clip showed the first appearance of the character. (Sorry – I can’t find it in

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Accountability for Judges in the Criminal Justice System

September 4, 2017

Here’s an article entitled I Set a Defendant Free And Got Blamed When He Raped Someone. This is what the article is about:
A judge explains how he decides whether to release a defendant before trial without bail — and how it can go bad.
I found reading any further into the article was a complete waste of time, but the little bit I quoted above does raise an important point. Pretty much every job includes some measure of accountability based on outcomes. Presumably our betters on the bench should also operate under the same principles. If someone actively sought out a position in which they decide whether defendants get released before trial, it isn’t too much to expect them to be pretty good at figuring out who should be released before trial and who

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